Marriage, like any relationship, requires upkeep and maintenance, and when life gets in the way, it’s all too easy for couples to drift apart.
Even though this is common, it doesn’t mean that reconnection isn’t possible — with so many simple ways to restore your emotional intimacy. Learning how to reconnect with your partner is an important stage in any relationship, as you resolve to work on your issues to get you back on track.
While it can be tough to accept that you’ve become disconnected from your partner, reviving your spark can be an incredibly fulfilling experience, and shouldn’t be seen as a chore! Reconnecting with your partner can be the start of the next chapter in your love story, and we’ve gathered the expert advice you need to get started!
Feeling disconnected in your relationship is usually very easy to spot, as both partners experience a lack of emotional, physical, or psychological connection.
While you’re still together, you start to feel more like roommates or friends, rather than a loving couple. This roommate phase speaks to the kind of disconnect present in your relationship, where you’ve almost forgotten what the early days of your love story felt like.
If you’re experiencing extended disconnection in your relationship, your interactions start to feel awkward, with resentment bubbling under the surface. Perhaps it feels like every time you talk is a negative interaction — you’re arguing constantly, not having sex, and you’ve stopped doing the little things that bring each other joy.
These are just some of the signs of disconnection in a relationship, with an overall de-prioritization on your partner leading to this stage. As you grow apart in this way, your emotional connection suffers, and you may not remember the last time you had a conversation about the relationship — outside of daily tasks or responsibilities.
Work schedules and/or stressful jobs
Pregnancy and childbirth
Health issues, including mental health issues
Unexpected stressful life events, like grieving the loss of a loved one
Unresolved relationship issues
Lack of open, honest communication
Unresolved emotional baggage
No matter the cause behind the disconnect, it can be a very confusing and overwhelming stage in any relationship. You might be in disbelief that you’ve ever let things get so bad, with the distance between you and your partner feeling unbroachable.
While it can feel like you’re doomed to just co-exist with your partner, and never feel that romantic spark again — this is not the case!
If you’re both willing to get that spark back, there are so many things that married couples can do to revive your relationship.
While some people prefer to turn to a couples therapist to set them on the right path (and there are so many great marriage therapists out there!), the key to reconnecting with your spouse could be simpler than you think.
Consider why you drifted apart in the first place. It could be the absence of the little things that have stalled your relationship growth, and it might be as easy as going back to basics.
Simple, direct, but positive. With the right amount of effort (and creativity), you can fall back in love with your partner.
While you may feel like you know everything about each other, this is very likely not the case. This is why, no matter what stage of the relationship you’re in, to never stop dating your partner. Be open-minded and be willing to explore new avenues for both emotional and sexual connection. (Who says you won’t have a little fun along the way?)
“One perspective of thinking about not knowing everything about our partners is to think about the fact that you are a different person since last week, yesterday, or even before a pivotal conversation you had an hour ago,” says Moraya Seeger DeGeare, a licensed marriage and family therapist and In-House Expert at Paired.
“It’s not that anyone's habits change overnight, it’s that we are constantly evolving. So if you acknowledge that you are changing, it helps remind you that so is your partner, reigniting that curiosity to share yourself with them and learn who they are continuously transforming into during that process.”
Even though we’re headed into this issue with a positive mindset, it is of course important to note that not every relationship can recover from disconnection. Studies have shown that 55% of recently divorced couples cite growing apart as the cause of their separation, and therefore were unable to revive their spark.
Other couples may also have become disconnected due to wider relationship issues, such as infidelity, which require a different approach and healing process.
When you’re approaching reconnection with your partner, it can feel like a very daunting task — especially considering the kind of relationship dynamic you may have found yourself in.
Addressing disconnection in a relationship can sometimes feel like a blame game, even though that’s not the intention behind the conversation. Even though it might be a contentious subject, it’s important to opt for full transparency to deal with all your underlying issues and begin your new journey. For example, if you feel they’re spending more time with friends than at home with the family, say so. If you’re self-conscious about getting undressed in front of them, say so.
“The challenge for couples is that oftentimes attempts at connection can trigger an argument,” says Moraya Seeger DeGeare, a licensed marriage and family therapist and In-House Relationship Expert for Paired.
“An easy and even silly way to help step out of that pattern is to clearly state when you want to connect with you more. Using direct eye contact and sharing that this is me making it a priority. It helps the other partner start to interpret the behavior with that intention in mind.”
Don’t head into the conversation by pointing fingers. Instead of using statements like “You did this”, or “You don’t do enough of this”, head into the conversation collaboratively, and allow them to express their perspective.
With everything out on the table, it’s easier to define your non-negotiables and work towards a relationship compromise that you’re both comfortable with.
Write a love letter. While newlyweds throw about the L-word all the time, it can fall out of your natural lingo as time goes on. So what better way to express your affection than a love note? Whether you want to leave post-its around the house expressing your affection and admiration or leave a love letter on their pillow — your spouse can treasure this forever, and you’ll be reminded of all the reasons why you love them.
Draw up a bucket list. While you may be in a period of disconnect now, it’s important to acknowledge that it won’t be like that forever! Work together to come up with a couple's bucket list, and then go and hit those goals together! You might discover things you never knew about each other, strengthening your marriage in the process.
Play a game together. It really is the simple things! Instead of spending another night in front of Netflix, inject some fun back into the relationship by trying something new together. Whether it’s a fun card game, or even a game of scrabble, taking yourself out of your daily routine can really help you reignite that spark.
Make time for conversation. It seems silly, but while you chat every day, when was the last time you had a deep, in-person conversation? You could try a no-phone hour, where you have dinner together and talk about your day, or even a few minutes before breakfast. (The Paired app is a great place to start).
Schedule your date night. While everyone loves a bit of spontaneity in a relationship (and we’re all for surprises), getting a date night on the calendar can help take some of the pressure off — with a clear space in the diary for connection.
Talk about sex. Sex might feel like a taboo topic, but that shouldn’t be the case in a committed relationship! Research shows that couples who talk about sex have a better sex life, as they have the time to express their desires in a safe environment. If you’re stuck for a starting point, we suggest working through our sex and intimacy packs!
Go to bed at the same time. While many couples work on different schedules, leaving your partner to watch TV alone means that you don’t get that opportunity for cuddling and intimacy.
Initiate touching. Physical intimacy doesn’t have to mean jumping straight to the main course. Our recent research showcases this craving for snuggles, and carving out this time for a non-sexual touch can help to renew your connection. Go back to basics by holding hands, sneaking in a few extra hugs during the day, and making that extra effort to stay physically connected with your partner. You never know where things might lead!
Show them gratitude with a kiss. Instead of your usual thank you, or text of appreciation, step it up a notch with physical acts of appreciation and gratitude. These sentimental moments can help break down any barriers around physical touch, and reinstating these small things can benefit your relationship in more things than one!
Keep it light. Sex doesn’t need to be serious! Especially as you’re working on reconnecting, sex shouldn’t be taken too seriously. It’s important to be playful as you renew your sexual connection — like two young lovebirds all over again.
Not all couples drift apart because of time or age. Sometimes, circumstances can derail your relationship, including an act of infidelity or an extra-marital affair.
Recovering from an affair is not a linear process, as rebuilding trust after infidelity involves an extended process of healing. This period also leads to an automatic period of disconnect, as the betrayed partner withdraws from the relationship to heal and evaluate the future.
Start by putting all your cards on the table, and enter into an open discussion about why this affair happened. While you don’t need to get into the graphic details, skirting around the truth could erode trust further down the road.
With genuine remorse and a lot of hard work, you can start to rekindle your romance — starting with reconciliation and reconnecting.
While infidelity puts up another roadblock on the way to reconnection, it’s still possible to renew your love. If you both truly believe that your relationship is worth saving, hope is not lost.